One of the latest in the seemingly endless spree of on-trend Peruvian venue launches is this restaurant at the newly opened Taj Dubai in Business Bay.
Hearing that it also opens for a hotel-lobby-style breakfast buffet each day might initially put you off, but don’t let it. On visiting Tesoro, you may be surprised (as we were), to be greeted not only very warmly, but by a Peruvian at the reservation desk. Staff are dressed in subtle, but very strikingly Peruvian uniforms, with woven multicoloured stripes on the sleeves of otherwise very understated dresses and shirts.
Walking beyond the buffet counters and shelves of quinoa in jars, once you get into Tesoro proper, it’s a beautiful sight. Not especially Latin looking, but very stylish. The central area of the dining room features what look like vast overgrown bonsai trees and a fretwork screen around the ceiling, with different carved wooden patterns letting in the light as if you’re sitting inside an incense holder. It’s simple, effective and very attractive. Topping that, is the soon-to-open (i.e. once winter hits) lounge terrace outside, which offers very good views of the Burj Khalifa.
So far, so great. Beyond that warm Peruvian welcome, staff continue to be just as friendly or present as you need them to be. They all also seem to have a reasonable understanding of the menu and can help you navigate the list, which is one of the only Peruvian menus in Dubai that is both reasonably priced and recognisably very Peruvian. This not just ceviche, quinoa and a bit of dulce de leche. You’ll find cau cau, causa, rocoto (even in a dessert), huancaina, lomo saltado, anticuchos (although, unfortunately, the beef heart variety was not available when we last visited), pollo a la brasa, tons of Nikkei twist, and so on.
There’s a catch coming, right? No. Because the food is also rather good. The corn salad was composed of three varieties of Peru’s thousands: crisp and roasted sweetcorn, plus fat, plump and nutty kernels, all doused in a potent but pleasant mix of chilli, lime and coriander. It was bright and bursting with flavour and texture. The Nikkei tuna tiradito was an elegant-looking plate with the finest, thinner-than-paper strips of tuna, neatly dressed with micro herbs and dressed with zingy yuzu. The scallops were presented as fine slices, which had been delicately torched to create caramelised flecks of texture and taste.
Of the more substantial plates, the main course lamb chops were plump, nicely pink, juicy and deliciously dressed in soy and chilli. The roasted chicken (pollo a la brasa) proved to be the least exciting. It simply looked rather ordinary, with anaemic-looking chips and dull salad leaves not helping matters. However, the chicken itself was not bad at all, and the quarter portion of dark meat was well prepared, retaining lots of fatty moisture.
Tesoro is Spanish for ‘treasure’ and it’s a surprisingly great little restaurant, with lots going for it. Of the Peruvian venues that have launched in the city, it is one of very few we’d consider going back to. What nudges this spot above the rest is its ability to take Peruvian cooking seriously, while still charging reasonable prices. Long may it continue.
The bill (for two) 1x scallop Dhs45 1x Nikkei tuna tiradito Dhs50 1x three corn Dhs35 1x pollo a la brasa Dhs100 1x lamb chops Dhs120 2x espresso Dhs50 1x large water Dhs35 Total (excluding service) Dhs435